Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bush's Newest Secret: Who's Funding His Library?

At a press conference the president refuses to say whether he'll disclose donors to his presidential library, but acknowledges he'll "probably take some foreign money."

By David Corn
McCain’s Political Quagmire
By Joe Conason

Within the next two weeks, the number of American troops killed in Iraq is likely to reach 4,000, assuming that the average number of fatal casualties per day remains steady. It is an arbitrary number, given meaning by the fact that the nation may briefly take notice, but a day will come in this presidential campaign when Sen. John McCain must explain what he thinks we have gained by the sacrifice of those men and women.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Robert Scheer debates Ralph Nader
Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer goes head to head with progressive icon Ralph Nader, who denies the charge that he has been a spoiler and challenges the value of the Democratic Party.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Glenn Greenwald
Sunday February 24, 2008 09:59 EST

For months, Harper's Scott Horton has been following and reporting on the story of Karl Rove's limitless crusade to destroy Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman of Alabama about as closely as anyone can follow a story. Yesterday, Scott emailed to say:

You should alert your readers to watch 60 Minutes on Sunday for an extremely important piece. They will learn how at the instigation of Karl Rove, the Justice Department was turned into a political hit machine to destroy the reputation and ultimately imprison AL governor Don Siegelman on accusations which do not constitute, no matter how you parse it, a crime.

It's an extraordinary, deep peek into a hopelessly corrupt Justice Department. They've been struggling to keep the lid on this story for two years. And on Sunday it is going to blow.

More details and background on tonight's 60 Minutes story are in this AP story here. Scott is a very smart and savvy commentator, not prone to hyperbole, so this piece will undoubtedly be worth watching. Scott's latest post on the Siegelman/60 Minutes matter is here (in which Scott, among other things, identifies several false statements in the AP story).

by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes (Hardcover - Mar 3, 2008)
by Joe Conason

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

McCain's alleged affair with a lobbyist isn't a big deal. What matter more are his ties to special interests, like her clients in the cruise ship industry.

By Joe Conason
By Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The McCain Standard
by John Nichols

John McCain treads dangerous ground as he defends himself against charges of questionable relations with a lobbyist. Remember his vote to impeach Clinton?

GOP politics in a nutshell
A new House Republican ad warns that we'll all be slaughtered, and soon, by bad dark people, unless we give the government all the new unchecked powers it's demanding.
by Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Poverty Is Poison

To be poor in America today, even more than in the past, is to be an outcast in your own country. And that, the neuroscientists tell us, is what poisons a child’s brain.
Pakistan turns scary for Bush's war on terror

The unraveling of Pervez Musharraf's presidency has dealt a severe blow to Bush's fatally flawed policy in the region.

By Juan Cole

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revolutionary icon, not seen in public since 2006, had ruled for 49 years.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kosovo's parliament has unanimously endorsed a declaration of independence from Serbia, in a historic session.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Many intelligence scholars and analysts outside the government say that today's expiration of certain temporary domestic wiretapping laws will have little effect on national security, despite warnings to the contrary by the White House and Capitol Hill Republican leaders.

By Joe Conason

The same conservatives sending Barack Obama love notes over the airwaves are likely to smear him from every angle if he secures the nomination. Obama says he is ready. Let’s hope so.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

House Holds Bush Confidants in Contempt; Republican Members Walk Out
by Julie Hirschfeld Davis

The House voted Thursday to hold two of President Bush’s confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically motivated.

Angry Republicans boycotted the vote and staged a walkout.

The vote was 223-32 Thursday to hold presidential chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt. The citations charge Miers with failing to testify and accuse her and Bolten of refusing Congress’ demands for documents related to the 2006-2007 firings.

Republicans said Democrats should instead be working on extending a law - set to expire Saturday - allowing the government to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails in the United States in cases of suspected terrorist activity.

The White House said the Justice Department would not ask the U.S. attorney to pursue the House contempt charges.

It is the first time in 25 years that a full chamber of Congress has voted on a contempt of Congress citation.

The action, which Democrats had been threatening for months, was the latest wrinkle in a more than yearlong constitutional clash between Congress and the White House.

The Bush administration has said the information being sought is off-limits under executive privilege, and argues that Bolten and Miers are immune from prosecution.

Still, the resolution would allow the House to bring its own lawsuit on the matter.

If Congress doesn’t act to enforce the subpoenas, said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, it would “be giving its tacit consent to the dangerous idea of an imperial presidency, above the law and beyond the reach of checks and balances.”

His presidential hopes depend on a perception of "victory" in Iraq. If things turn worse by summer with fewer U.S. troops, will he still argue for more of the same?

By Joe Conason

Friday, February 15, 2008

Waterboarding leads Lieberman to lose his mind
By: Steve Benen

Occasionally, we’ll hear that Joe Lieberman is generally in line with Democrats, but makes an exception on the war in Iraq and a neocon worldview of foreign policy. When it comes to values and domestic policy, the argument usually goes, Lieberman is generally reliable.
Let’s just erase that thought from our minds now, shall we?

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman reluctantly acknowledged Thursday that he does not believe waterboarding is torture, but believes the interrogation technique should be available only under the most extreme circumstances.

Lieberman was one of 45 senators who voted Wednesday in opposition to a bill that would limit the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual. That manual prohibits waterboarding, a method where detainees typically are strapped to a bench and have water poured into their mouth and nose making them feel as if they will drown.

“We are at war,” Lieberman said. “I know enough from public statements made by Osama bin Laden and others as well as classified information I see to know the terrorists are actively planning, plotting to attack us again. I want our government to be able to gather information again within both the law and Geneva Convention.”

All of this is spectacularly and breathtakingly wrong.
This is What A Police State Looks Like

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Olbermann: Bush a 'fascist' who uses 'terrorism'
by David Edwards and John Byrne

In a scathing commentary against President George W. Bush, MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann declared Bush guilty of terrorism for playing what he sees as the fear card in an attempt to get the House to pass retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies that illegally helped the US government in its warrantless wiretapping program Thursday evening.
"You are a liar, Mr. Bush, and after showing some skill at it, you have ceased to even be a very good liar," he declared.
Arianna Huffington: John McCain Sells His Soul to the Right: Backs Off on Torture Ban
The Lost Kristol Tapes

What the New York Times bought: A look back at William Kristol's two-hour appearance on C-Span just nine days after the President launched his invasion of Iraq.

By Jonathan Schwarz
Aboard the Condoleezza Rice
By Robert Scheer —

Whadda you mean “we,” Mr. TV Pundit? When you say “we” are doing better in Iraq or, even more absurd, that “we” were right to invade that country in the first place, are you putting Joe Blow American in the same bag as the top officers of Exxon, which made $40.6 billion in profit last year?
Uncovering the truth about CIA torture tapes

Congress must remedy its abysmal record of investigating the Bush administration on prisoner abuse and torture.

By Anthony D. Romero

Our country is barely smarter than a 5th grader -- no wonder it's drowning in religious fundamentalism and political ideologues on both sides, argues Susan Jacoby.

By Laura Miller

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Demopublicans bend over once again, say nothing , do nothing.

Senate Votes for Expansion of Spy Powers

WASHINGTON — After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants.

One by one, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the government’s surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve legislation that the White House had been pushing for months. Mr. Bush hailed the vote and urged the House to move quickly in following the Senate’s lead.

The outcome in the Senate amounted, in effect, to a broader proxy vote in support of Mr. Bush’s wiretapping program. The wide-ranging debate before the final vote presaged discussion that will play out this year in the presidential and Congressional elections on other issues testing the president’s wartime authority, including secret detentions, torture and Iraq war financing.

Republicans hailed the reworking of the surveillance law as essential to protecting national security, but some Democrats and many liberal advocacy groups saw the outcome as another example of the Democrats’ fears of being branded weak on terrorism.

“Some people around here get cold feet when threatened by the administration,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who leads the Judiciary Committee and who had unsuccessfully pushed a much more restrictive set of surveillance measures.

Among the presidential contenders, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, voted in favor of the final measure, while the two Democrats, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, did not vote. Mr. Obama did oppose immunity on a key earlier motion to end debate. Mrs. Clinton, campaigning in Texas, issued a statement saying she would have voted to oppose the final measure.

The measure extends, for at least six years, many of the broad new surveillance powers that Congress hastily approved last August just before its summer recess. Intelligence officials said court rulings had left dangerous gaps in their ability to intercept terrorist communications.

The bill, which had the strong backing of the White House, allows the government to eavesdrop on large bundles of foreign-based communications on its own authority so long as Americans are not the targets. A secret intelligence court, which traditionally has issued individual warrants before wiretapping began, would review the procedures set up by the executive branch only after the fact to determine whether there were abuses involving Americans.

“This is a dramatic restructuring” of surveillance law, said Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department intelligence lawyer who represents several telecommunication companies. “And the thing that’s so dramatic about this is that you’ve removed the court review. There may be some checks after the fact, but the administration is picking the targets.”

The Senate plan also adds one provision considered critical by the White House: shielding phone companies from any legal liability for their roles in the eavesdropping program approved by Mr. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks. The program allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on the international communications of Americans suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

AT&T and other major phone companies are facing some 40 lawsuits from customers who claim their actions were illegal. The Bush administration maintains that if the suits are allowed to continue in court, they could bankrupt the companies and discourage them from cooperating in future intelligence operations.

The House approved a surveillance bill in November that intentionally left out immunity for the phone companies, and leaders from the two chambers will now have to find a way to work out significant differences between their two bills.

Democratic opponents, led by Senators Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, argued that the plan effectively rewarded phone companies by providing them with legal insulation for actions that violated longstanding law and their own privacy obligations to their customers. But immunity supporters said the phone carriers acted out of patriotism after the Sept. 11 attacks in complying with what they believed in good faith was a legally binding order from the president.

“This, I believe, is the right way to go for the security of the nation,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the intelligence committee. His support for the plan, after intense negotiations with the White House and his Republican colleagues, was considered critical to its passage but drew criticism from civil liberties groups because of $42,000 in contributions that Mr. Rockefeller received last year from AT&T and Verizon executives.

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican on the intelligence panel, said the bill struck the right balance between protecting the rights of Americans and protecting the country “from terrorism and other foreign threats.”

Democratic opponents, who six months ago vowed to undo the results of the August surveillance vote, said they were deeply disappointed by the defection of 19 Democrats who backed the bill.

Mr. Dodd, who spoke on the floor for more than 20 hours in recent weeks in an effort to stall the bill, said future generations would view the vote as a test of whether the country heeds “the rule of law or the rule of men.”

But with Democrats splintered, Mr. Dodd acknowledged that the national security argument had won the day. “Unfortunately, those who are advocating this notion that you have to give up liberties to be more secure are apparently prevailing,” he said. “They’re convincing people that we’re at risk either politically, or at risk as a nation.”

There was a measure of frustration in the voice of Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, as he told reporters during a break in the daylong debate, “Holding all the Democrats together on this, we’ve learned a long time ago, is not something that’s doable.”

Senate Republicans predict that they will be able to persuade the House to include immunity in the final bill, especially now that the White House has agreed to give House lawmakers access to internal documents on the wiretapping program. But House Democrats vowed Tuesday to continue opposing immunity.

Congress faces a Saturday deadline for extending the current law, but Democrats want to extend the deadline for two weeks to allow more time for talks. The White House has said it opposes a further extension.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats hope to put some pressure on Republicans on Wednesday over another security-related issue by bringing up an intelligence measure that would apply Army field manual prohibitions against torture to civilian agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency.

Republicans plan to try to eliminate that provision, a vote that Democrats say will force Republicans to declare whether they condone torture. Democrats also say it could show the gap between Mr. McCain, who has opposed torture, and the administration on the issue.

“We know how we would feel if a member of the armed services captured by the enemy were, for example, waterboarded,” Mr. Reid said. “So I think that we’re headed in the right direction, and I hope that we’ll get Republican support on this.”

Carl Hulse contributed reporting from Washington.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vet suicides hit Guard, Reserve

New government report raises alarm, calls for long-term mental services.
Video: Using John McCain's Iraq Rhetoric Against Him

Arianna Huffington: End of a Romance: Why the Media and Independent Voters Need to Break Up with John McCain

The Senate's actions today in permanently protecting Bush officials from clear lawbreaking illustrate how far we've tumbled from the Church Committee of the post-Watergate era.

by Glenn Greenwald

Monday, February 11, 2008

The mess at MSNBC

NBC President Steve Capus’ statement is the best sign yet that NBC News is beginning to take seriously the lengthy pattern of inappropriate comments about women made by NBC and MSNBC reporters. But apologies and statements and even suspensions don’t mean anything unless they are followed by an actual change in behavior. Things didn’t change at NBC/MSNBC after the Matthews controversy; hopefully they will this time. Read More

by Harold Meyerson

The conservative agenda has been winnowed down to supporting what remains of Bushism. That's not only a losing formula for November, it also means that intellectually, conservatism is running on empty.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Kucinich Under Fire
By Rep. Dennis Kucinich —
Rep. Dennis Kucinich is back in Cleveland and fighting for his political survival as his longtime corporate opponents finance a Swift-boat-style media onslaught to take over his congressional seat. Here he fires back and makes his case for why Cleveland, and the country, needs his voice in Congress now more than ever.

Tortured Semantics
By Eugene Robinson —
The campaign for the White House is great fun, but it can also be a distraction. While the leading contenders to replace Bush continue to duke it out, the president and his lieutenants are still trying to justify torture in the name of protecting this once great democracy.

Al-Qaida is coming ... Al-Qaida is coming ... Al-Qaida is coming.

by Glenn Greenwald

Saturday, February 09, 2008

We Come to Bury Rudy

The evil that men do lives after their mayoral stints—and even 9/11

by Wayne Barrett

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bush Budget Cruel to the Poor

by Matthew Rothschild

This isn’t about what we can afford, but what we choose to spend our money on. It’s about who we favor, and who we burden.
Iraq’s Tragic Future
By Scott Ritter —

The former U.N. weapons inspector examines the president’s claims about the “surge” and says what the media and Congress won’t: It is not a strategy, it is an escalation, one that will not prevent the coming collapse of Iraq. There are no solutions just waiting to be found, and the only sensible thing to do is leave. Now.
Daily Show: Super Hump Day


Why McCain provokes paranoia on the right

Not only does the Arizona senator mock conservative orthodoxy, but, even worse, his pro-immigration think tank took money from George Soros and other frightening liberals.

By Joe Conason

Black History Month

Think of African-American athletes who broke down barriers and names like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe immediately come to mind. Joe Gans was as much a civil rights trailblazer as any athlete. Story

Robert "Bob" Nesta Marley (February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Clinton and Obama fight on to the next round of primaries -- and a probable matchup with John McCain.

By Walter Shapiro

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

by Richard A. Clarke
The Opinion Mill

James Wolcott surveys the ever-growing stack of books about King Dubya, and ends up wondering if an elemental truth about the Bush administration has been missed:

So much of the burgeoning Bush literature, both nonfiction and fiction, is built on the premise that the Bush-Cheney autarchy is a disastrous failure that can be diagnosed as a hulking case of hubris coupled with a righteous dose of blowback. (Earlier this year saw the publication of a book co-written by Michael Isikoff and David Corn titled Hubris, unveiling “the Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.”) It’s assumed that the plastic fantastic alternative universe fashioned by the Bushies and the neocons—remember the famous boast to Ron Suskind from the unnamed Bush aide in The New York Times Magazine, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality”?—has ignominiously popped upon contact with brute reality, sending a former demigod such as Donald Rumsfeld crashing into the cornfield and ejecting Condoleezza Rice into an endless orbit of mortified futility.

But perhaps we’re the ones living in Bizarro World, not the Bushies. Maybe from their vantage point inside the mother ship nearly everything’s worked out as intended, if not exactly as planned, and those in the highest circles have no more reason to examine their consciences or re-trace their steps than the perpetrators of a successful heist. For years, a few voices on the radical edges of the blogosphere have contended that sowing chaos in the Middle East, privatizing war to enrich their corporate sponsors, and letting things slide to hell at home were what the lords of misrule wanted—that the bungling and incompetence of the war and Katrina weren’t bugs, but features. After all, the post-Katrina diaspora has redounded to the benefit of the Republicans with the election of Bobby Jindal to the Louisiana governorship, his victory made possible in part by the dispersement of black voters displaced by the floods.

Comedian Patton Oswalt put it a little more pungently on his 222 album when he said he hated to hear people calling Bush stupid. “He’s not stupid,” Oswalt said, “he’s evil, and there’s a big difference.” Sure, Bush trips over his own tongue when he talks about democracy and justice, but that’s because he couldn’t care less about such things. Get Bush talking about war and destruction, Oswalt said, and “he’s fucking Dylan Thomas.”

Wolcott is right. I’ve talked about this before and nothing I’ve seen during Bush’s tenure in office has caused me to question my conclusion. Viewed in terms of public service and responsible stewardship, the Bush administration has been a catastrophic failure. Viewed in terms of conservative rhetoric about government — that it is the problem and not the solution, that deregulation and corporate tax cuts are the answer to everything — the Bush administration has been a roaring success. For supporters and allies of the Bush administration, it has been an astonishing profit-taking opportunity unlikely to be matched for many decades. When conservatives tell you that government doesn’t work, they’re only giving away half the formula. The complete version is: government doesn’t work, but we sure know how to work it.

Posted by stevenhart

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The 2008 Republican race has left a bitter legacy of sloganeering against Muslims. It may well haunt the party this November.

By Juan Cole

by Robert B. Reich

After three decades of government starvation of necessary resources, the next president needs to champion progressive taxation with the proceeds invested in social outlays that make for a more productive economy.

Also: Ezra Klein on what a progressive tax policy looks like.


The two Democratic candidates left standing are, to a large extent, running on the platform that John Edwards built.

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